Emperor’s Courtyard at the Kyoto Imperial Palace
The Kyoto Imperial Palace 「京都御所 Kyōto Gosho」 was home to the Imperial Family for over 1,000 years. The Imperial Household Agency is the caretaker of the Imperial Palace here in Kyoto, and also the current Imperial Family’s home in Tokyo.
This large courtyard at the Kyoto Gosho was used by the Emperor for state and religious purposes. Enthronement ceremonies for incoming Emperors were held in this courtyard.
South Courtyard at the Kyoto Imperial Palace
This courtyard in Japanese is dantei 「南庭 / だんてい」 and is enclosed by white walls with vermilion pillars and a ceramic tile roof. The large open courtyard is very minimal. The ground is covered in a white sand, symbolic of the pure nature of these grounds.
Formal ceremonies and events were held in this courtyard, sometimes for entertainment of the Imperial Family, who rarely left the grounds of the palace.
This photo was taken from the south east corner of the courtyard. In the center of the frame is the jōmeimon 「承明門 / じょうめいもん」 which is the main gate of this sacred inner area. During ceremonies attended by the Emperor, the Emperor would enter the courtyard through the center of this gate. The gate has a ninuri-kawara 「丹塗り瓦葺 / にぬりかわら」 style roof. Kawara in Japanese means ceramic roof tile.
With advanced booking visitors can enter part of the Kyoto Gosho’s grounds with a free guided English speaking tour. For more details (and more photos of the Palace), see: Kyoto Imperial Palace: Best Free English Tour in Kyoto.